Satisfying that Deli Sandwich Craving

Let’s be honest, a good deli sandwich rocks. The LSAT course I took was held in the hotel next door to the Carnegie Deli… some pretty gnarly sandwiches were consumed. Carnegie had a bangin’ mayo-free tuna salad sandwich, awesome veggie wraps and mile-high paninis. Let’s just say I was sufficiently carbed up for a large portion of late summer-early fall 2008.

You lose a lot of the fun of a deli sandwich when you go full-on vegetarian, particularly the “stacked with 1/4 lb. of *insert deli meat here*” part, and I can’t say I don’t miss them. Shaun’s also a sucker for the deli at the law school, where his Friday ritual has become a wheatberry *insert deli meat here* sandwich. C’Ville has some “markets,” but I’ve yet to come across a legit deli. Suggestions welcome. Otherwise, we’ll keep making the rounds at Foods of All Nations, Market St. Market, and of course, good ol’ boy Panera.

When I stumbled upon [literally, I might have been using StumbleUpon] Kathy‘s recipe for a “Tofu Crunch” salad – her version of vegan chicken salad – I thought I’d test out how a vegan chicken salad of my own would satisfy Shaun’s deli sandwich craving. The other night, as we struggled to think of what/where to eat, he threw up his hands and yelled, “I just want a sandwich!* Bingo. I went in for the kill.

Served simply on a tomato basil FlatOut wrap with deli swiss cheese [YUM] and spinach and panini-pressed for just a second, these sandwiches were juicy, hearty and almost decadent – because come on, how often does a vegetarian get a good deli sandwich? The tofu is a perfect chicken or tuna salad substitute. Perfect.

chilled and crunchy.

Shaun had seconds for lunch the next day, and I kept sneaking a spoonful every time I opened the fridge.** Although I still often pine for my mom’s homemade tuna salad, this recipe’s a keeper. Plus, just one block of tofu makes enough for at least 5 wraps, as we’re learning. Even Grady approves.

i just want to see what all the fuss is about.

Below is my recipe, which is basically Kathy’s with some modifications. Please visit her site, too.

Vegetarian “Chicken” Salad (Vegetarian)

Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus 1-hour chilling in the frige.

Serves: 5+ Servings


  • 1 block firm or extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 2 hard-boiled egg whites
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2-3 diced pickles
  • 2-3 tablespoons vegan mayo
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • A sprinkle of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a large bowl, combine the veganaise, mustard, soy, hot sauce, lemon, parsley, mustard seeds, paprika, celery seed, cayenne, and salt and pepper – whisk.

2. Fold in the celery, egg whites, pickles and  tofu, mix.

3. Begin to slightly mash the tofu with a fork until it breaks into smaller pieces and looks more like chicken salad.

4. Refrigerate for about an hour, or until sauce thickens. Serve on some awesome bread with awesome toppings.

* Expletives removed.

** In case you’re wondering, this spoonful is in addition to the inevitable every-time-the-fridge-is-open-pickle. And I wonder why I can’t lose weight?


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Categories: Recipes


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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8 Comments on “Satisfying that Deli Sandwich Craving”

  1. November 16, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Yeah, it is hard to find a real deli in VA. Gotta go get hoagies in PA! When I’m back on my feet I want to try this salad! Yum!

  2. Laura
    November 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Ah, I am so excited to for this! I never miss meat, except around lunchtime. My number one complaint as a vegetarian is how unsatisfying hummus-veggie wraps can be after a while. Sometimes, I really miss some good cold-cuts and cheese on wheat bread. Looking forward to giving this recipe a try! Thanks!

    • November 17, 2011 at 7:44 am #

      Have you tried Tofurkey? Sometimes, their “cold cuts” hit the spot, too!

  3. Michelle
    November 16, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    This addresses a huge, problematic craving of mine — deli sandwiches! Very excited to try this.

    • November 16, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

      I don’t know what it is about sandwich cravings, but when they come on, they come on STRONG.

  4. Lauren Bingham
    November 16, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    How can you forget about Bellair Market sandwiches! Their vegetarian ones are fantastic, even if they’re not a “legit deli.” Also, this recipe is just vegetarian, not vegan, since it has the egg whites. I’ve never thought of using tofu to make a fake chicken salad, but I might now!

    • November 17, 2011 at 7:42 am #

      Good catch. But actually, I honestly contemplated putting Bellair on that list with Foods of All Nations and Market St. Market, then I realized I don’t think they deserve to be on that list. Then, I contemplated adding a footnote about WHY I don’t think Bellair belongs in that group, but suffice it to say that FOAN and MSM are much, much, more traditional (and cheaper!) than Bellair. I do LOVE their vegetarian sandwiches, though. Yum.


  1. A Funny Thing Happened at the Kroger | Ryes and 'Shine - November 17, 2011

    […] Post navigation ← Satisfying that Deli Sandwich Craving […]

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